The stony road beneath my feet felt particularly rough this Monday. Oddly enough, I had never thought anything special could ever occur on a Monday. After all, weren’t Mondays the days people would only tolerate, nothing but a bridge to cross towards the rest of the week, towards the rest of their lives? And yet, way before it was time to go to work, way before I set foot on that rocky road, I had felt a nauseating feeling of uneasiness when punching my alarm off or splashing cold water all over my body. I still wasn’t awake. The air was stiff, humid, it had never been before. Its breeze used to be fresh, nourishing, but this wasn’t any Monday now was it? This was the day everything would change. I just didn’t know it yet.
My day started, as usual, in a sickening monotony. My finger tips kept punching the keyboard, entering numbers into the system. My hoarse voice answered a dozen phone calls, sometimes anonymous ones. For some reason, people enjoyed making silly incomprehensible jokes on line with an employee. Perhaps banks weren’t the most likeable offices for citizens, I cannot say for sure. It seemed like it though, through the coarse swearing of angry customers, ranting about everything and everyone. I found that sort of behavior quite indelicate, to be honest. Why one would choose to make a scene of themselves is beyond me.
Files piled over the dusty wooden desk where I had spent the last twenty years of my life. Names, addresses and account numbers sliding before my eyes one right after the other. Seconds piled into minutes and minutes into hours. I could feel each and every one of them, arrows in the clock mocking me, ticking, their noise echoing in my head repeatedly. Sometimes, I think I can no longer stand it. Sometimes, I even think of quitting. In fact, almost everyday, I would imagine the perfect quitting scene; me throwing that yellowy dusty pile of files on the equally dusty floor. I would even curse my boss, and leave a heroine in glory, while everyone stood in shock and watched me walk away. But then I would remember the five hundred thousand dollars I make per year, and I’d just decide it wasn’t worth it.
On Mondays, the office usually isn’t that crowded, consequently giving me one free hour. Most employees would come an hour late. Perhaps that just made sense for them. I, however, found it frivolous to waste a perfectly useful hour on sleep. On Mondays, I leave one hour earlier than all the fools who had overslept that same morning.
Those frustrating clock arrows finally hit four in the evening. I stood up as soon as the noise reached me. I threw everything, papers and phone, into my bag in a hurry. Those files still laid on my desk, at least a few of them, a couple. I couldn’t bother with them now, my work for the day was done. I took a few steps away from my desk, buttoning the vest of my suit. I ignored that stupid urge itching me to go back, and moved forward. I deserved to rest, I deserved to drink champagne and relax in front of my TV. But just as I turned right and started walking down the hallway towards the exit door, that damned urge pushed me back. I rushed to my desk again towards the few files I had left. I entered all of their informations in the system, made a few phone calls to assure the eligibility of those accounts, before finally shutting the computer down and leaving for good. It took me twenty two minutes to complete those tasks, twenty two minutes wasted from my free hour.
The bright daylight blinded me, the heat was unbearable. I rushed towards my car, and leaning on it was the well known wrinkly figure of a middle aged man in a standard black suit. His sense of fashion was undeniably impressive, even to me who couldn’t find his presence more infuriating.
“Hello Nicole, how are you doing?”
I didn’t even think twice before saying, “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I thought I would stop by and say hi.”
“What’s the catch? Do you need money?”
He didn’t even seem slightly offended by my suggestion.
He just said, “Thank you for your concern, darling, but I am currently financially stable.”
I said nothing. I just waited for him to either complete his thought, if he had any, or just initiate a new topic of conversation. Deep down, I just hoped he would do neither and leave. Needless to say, he didn’t.
“Believe it or not, I actually came in good intentions. I wanted to invite you, you are my daughter after all.”
“I have no desire whatsoever to watch you marry some whore from the streets the age of your daughter.”
A glimpse of anger flashed in his eyes, the same look that would keep me awake for hours trembling in fear as a child. But I was no longer a child, and his anger scared me no more. If anything it just irritated me.
“We have already talked about this, Nicole. I don’t need to explain myself nor my choices to you. The ceremony is on July 18th. Hopefully, I’ll see you there.”
He moved away from the car, not another word uttered, and started walking away. I could barely stand looking at him. I took out my car keys. My hands were trembling. Damn it, Nicole, why do you even care?
I grabbed the leathery wheel tight, I even started the car and shifted to first gear. My hands trembled still, I couldn’t stop them. I felt a vein pounding in the back of my neck. I slowly pressed the accelerator, maybe the vehicle even advanced a little, I don’t remember anymore. What I do remember is that vein pounding even harder, and blood rushing through my limbs, burning my inners. I flung the door open. He heard it across the parking and turned in a rush, as if he was expecting me to call him, as if he knew that I had a lot more to say. I hated that he did, I hated that he always knew, that no matter what I did, he could see right through me.
“How could you?” I yelled.
Hands in the pockets of his pants, he swayed back to where I stood. His leather shoes made a squeaky sound as they rubbed the ground.
I inhaled as much air as I could and clenched my jaw to keep myself from screaming in rage. He could see my struggle, I would even go as far as saying that he rejoiced in it. I spoke again, “I thought you loved her. How could you replace her? How could you replace me?”
“Replace her? Honey, your mother has been dead for ten years.”
“I know! And you should’ve been grieving her loss, not replacing her with some mindless twenty year old,” I cried.
“I did grieve her loss. In fact, I’m still grieving her loss, but I had to move on, and so do you,” this time, he yelled as well.
“I can’t just move on, she was my everything!”
I didn’t even think of keeping it down, I just screamed at the top of my lungs in fury. I was pretty sure that the other employees were now out of the office, some of them could even be watching me make an ass of myself, but I didn’t care.
I stared at him and he just stared back. I waited for a while, to check whether he still had anything to say. He didn’t, so I got back in my car and drove away. Only then did I notice the dozens of shadows lurking around the parking.
When I came into my flat, the odor of dust and perfume from the previous morning stung my nostrils. Light from the lanterns outside my house leaked through the cracks of my window’s louver. I didn’t even bother putting the lights on, I just threw myself on the first sofa I could find on my way. I pushed my face down a pillow and sobbed in silence. It pained me to draw my breath, air barely reached my lungs. My chest swayed up and down. Numbness crippled my limbs. Sweat drenched my skin, hair stuck to it. Every once in a while, I would rub the sleeve of my woollen jacket on my nose. A hot sticky fluid run down my cupid bow. Once it finally reached my lips, I could taste its metallic flavor. I barely bothered to wipe it away.
It took me a while to recompose myself. When I finally did, it was almost 3 a.m. My skull was crushing my brain and it burned underneath it. Scenes from the previous day flashed before my eyes. Anger came boiling up my throat again. I wanted to shake it off, I no longer wanted to cry, I no longer wanted to grieve. I looked around me in exasperation, but all I saw was a messy room. At the corner of the room, a pile of papers laid stacked over a wooden table. Underneath those papers, I noticed an old typewriter that I hadn’t seen nor used in a long time.
I stared at the machine for a couple of minutes, minutes that felt like hours. I brushed my fingers along the keyboard, absentminded. My fingertips hung over the keys in hesitation, but when they finally punched them, shivers spread over my skin. Time froze. Everything froze. Everything but my fingers. They kept punching the keys ardently. I embraced that rhythm and it lead me from one page to the other until all I knew was that it was time for work. It overwhelmed me. The feeling consumed me entirely. I had to write. Had I not written, I never would’ve found myself. For an entire night, all I wanted to do, all I could do, was write. I no longer recall what it was that ended up on those papers, probably a poorly written rant about my issues. It didn’t really matter. What mattered was that as long as I wrote, I felt good. I had found my passion.
Doha Al Jerrari is a 17-year-old Moroccan writer of both fiction and poetry. He previous works include numerous translations of educational local high school movies, and a dozen short stories varying in genre and theme. Strongly believing that writing requires discipline and hard work, she has been pursuing her passion for years and aims to make a career out of it. Currently working on numerous projects and applying for writing magazines, she is slowly but certainly reaching her goal.